Friday, July 20, 2007

Blog this!

This just in from David Brewer:
Hey Kids,

I'm back from a month in Europe. I leave for Japan on August 5th, then go to Eastern Germany and Poland in September and October, then to Nashville and finally back to Seattle to work on my acoustic CD.

Travel is sure not what it used to be, I tell you, but what can a poor boy do?

...and oblige, Brewer
In the Pocket with Mr. Solid

By John Lee

The Washington Fryers Blues All-Stars at The Waterfront Blues Festival

On July 8th 2007 I tuned in to KBOO 90.7 FM in Portland, Oregon on the Internet and listened to a cadre of Seattle area musicians perform at The Waterfront Blues Festival. Becki Sue and Her Big Rockin' Daddies anchored a group of stellar players that also included Mike Lynch, Polly O’Keary, Dennis Ellis, "Two Scoops" Moore and Tim Sherman.

Here’s the set song by song:
  • "San-Ho-Zay," by the late, great Freddy King. Tom Boyle (of the Big Rockin’ Daddies) did his usual top-notch job. Tom is a consummate guitar man who always brings his A game to every song.

  • Little Walter Jacobs has influenced every blues harp player who’s ever played. Mike Lynch does a real nice job with Walter’s "Everything's Going To Be Alright." Guitar hot-shot Tim Sherman adds a real tasty solo.

  • Polly O’Keary is a excellent vocalist and fine bass player. Here she just fronts the band (all the bass duties were more than capably handled by the Rocking Daddies' Les White) with the Big Bill Broonzy classic, "Key To The Highway."

  • Becki Sue does a nice job on the blues rhumba, "Don’t You Lie To Me."

  • Piano player "Two Scoops" Moore specializes in food songs. His "Hamburger Time" made me want to head to the kitchen for a bite.

  • Rockin’ Daddy Jim King is great sax player, a real cool vocalist and a good harp player. Here he sang and played Mississippi saxophone on a tune titled "Call Me Rockin."

  • My long time friend Mike Lynch again. This time its Eddie Taylor’s "Big Time Playboy." A great sax solo by my band-mate in The Crossroads Band, Dennis Ellis.

  • Polly O’Keary once more with the Elmore James’ classic "The Sky Is Crying." A real nice guitar solo by Tim Sherman.

  • Becki Sue working hard with the great Slim Harpo tune "Hip Shake, Baby." Drummer Jeff Hayes pushes this boogie number right along.

  • Two Scoops ends the one hour set with his food tune, "The Big Buffet." This time I had to get a full meal right after the song was finished.

Becki Sue

Tom Boyle and Les "Wild Child" White

Jeff Hayes

This show was a nice crisp set that represented our area quite well. My thanks to Becki Sue and Her Big Rockin’Daddies and all the special guests for a very enjoyable time.

Great Performances - "Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story"

On Wednesday, August 1st 2007 PBS presents the film, "Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story." Directed by Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon, the pair also responsible for the incredible film “Can’t be Satisfied”-The Life and Times Of Muddy Waters." The film is based on the book of the same title on the great Muddy Waters by Robert Gordon. Mr. Gordon also wrote the definitive book on Memphis music titled “It Came from Memphis.”

The film will cover the beginnings of Stax in 1957 when the legendary soul label was Satellite Records and was located outside of Memphis. In 1959 the operation moved to south Memphis, to an empty movie theater, dubbed Soulville USA. Until 1975, the great soul label recorded some of the finest sides in the history of American music. Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Booker T. and the MG’s., Eddie Floyd, William Bell, The Staple Singers, and Issac Hayes are just some of the great soul artists Stax Records recorded.

"Respect Yourself" has home movies, lost footage from The Stax/Watts motion picture, and interviews with many of the principles, including Booker T., Steve Cropper, Al Bell, Mavis Staples, Issac Hayes and founder, Jim Stewart and much more. Jesse Jackson will talk about Stax. He and Richard Pryor both did spoken word recordings for the label.

This film has all the earmarks of a great work to help Stax Records, one of America’s great music labels celebrate its 50-year anniversary. I’am sure this will be a good one. Check your local listing for times in your area.

All Memphis Music

While I was searching the Internet checking on some info for the film "Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story," I ran across this very hip internet radio station at The broadcasters comments, I think, sum it up best: “We love Memphis music, Elvis Presley, Soul music, Rockabilly, Blues, Delta Blues, Sun Records, Stax Records, Hi Records, Otis, Carla, Booker T. and the MG’s, Rufus, Jerry Lee, Al Green, Roy Orbison and so many more!” Check it out. I think you’ll dig it as much as I do!

Quote of the Month

The late, great comedian Milton Berle was once asked what kind of cigar he was smoking, Milton Berle said it was a Lawrence Welk. What kind of cigar is a Lawrence Welk? Milton Berle said “It’s a piece of shit with a band around it.”

Electric bassist John "Mr. Solid" Lee was born in Alaska and has been active in the Seattle blues scene for about 30 years. He currently plays with the Crossroads Band. Photo by Mike Coyote.

Dis and dat...

My mailbox has been filling up again with band photos, so it's time to publish some of 'em. Check it out:

Kurt Crandall

Kurt Crandall, a fine singer and harp player, recently moved to Seattle from Chicago with his fiance Stephanie. Kurt is working at the VA Hospital in Seattle and is living on Capital Hill. I've seen Kurt sitting in at a couple of clubs in town now, and I'm here to tell ya, he's a good 'un. Wait until you hear him play the difficult chromatic harp, baby! Rumor has it that he is already starting a new band with veteran guitarist Tim Sherman.
Welcome to the Jet City, Kurt and Stephanie!

Kurt Crandall playing with the Dana Lupinacci Band at a recent outdoor festival in Kent, WA. Photo by the Blues Boss.

Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival - Portland, OR

I played with the Washington Fryers at the WBF this year. This was an all-star band put together by Tom Boyle that consisted of Becki Sue & Her Big Rockin' Daddies, plus guest artists Eric "Two Scoops" Moore (piano/vocals), Dennis Ellis (tenor sax), Polly O'Keary (vocals), Tim Sherman (guitar) and yours truely. Big fun!

Check out the photo of the Brown Sugar tribute band, with Lloyd Jones on drums and Mark Dufresne filling in for the late Paul deLay. I will be posting a couple more photos from this gig as a part of John Lee's next blog.

Left to right: Jim King, Dennis Ellis, Tom Boyle, and Mike Lynch. Photo by Phil Chesnut.

Left to right: Tom Boyle, Tim Sherman, Jim King, and Eric Moore. Photo by Les Hutchinson.

Brown Sugar Tribute Band - left to right: Jim Mesi, Lloyd Jones, and Mark Dufresne.

The Doheny Blues Festival

Phil Chesnut, Jet City Blues' staff photographer, was working on a piece for Blues Revue magazine at the Doheny Blues Festival in southern California where he took these photos. Thanks for sharing these with us, Phil!

Honey Piazza and James Cotton

Kim Wilson, Rod Piazza, and James Cotton

Kim Wilson and James Cotton

Kim Wilson and his sons Hunter Morganfield (left) and Steven Jacobs

Kim Wilson and Seattle area resident Lee Oskar

The Dana Lupinacci Band

I played a fun gig with vocalist Dana Lupinacci early in June at JR's Sports Bar in Everett. JR's is a nice place, with a large stage and dance floor, plus pro sound. However, they have been struggling to get blues fans in there. We had a pretty good crowd for the first set, with several members of the Washington Blues Society in attendance, but the joint was pretty empty for the rest of the night.

Left to right: Garrett Smith, Mike Lynch, Dana Lupinacci, Mark Dalton, and Billy Spaulding. Photo by Katha Dalton.

Where's Billy?? Photo by Katha Dalton.

Monday, July 02, 2007

House Party with Steve Cheseborough

By Malcom Kennedy

There is nothing more traditional in blues than a house party. Many of the juke joints in the Delta were house parties or fish fries and this was also true in Chicago, New York and the other northern cities. These were not establishments; but someone’s shotgun shack (or, in the cities, their apartment) with the furniture moved to the side or maybe out back so a couple of musicians could perform, folks could dance and buy a pint of corn (aka: moonshine, white lightning, or corn whiskey.)

Well, the other night we were invited to a house party at Seattle harp player Steve Bailey's house with guitarist/singer Steve Cheseborough performing. There were about 30 of us and we started off with a potluck featuring red beans and rice, pulled pork, grilled chicken, coleslaw and other fixin’s then we moved downstairs where we took seats in the basement.

Steve was set up with a PA system, his resonator guitar, his Larrivee acoustic fitted out with a pick-up, and a few harmonicas. He played for about an hour performing some obscure, often slightly risqué songs from the '20s and '30’s originally played by artists like Charley Patton, Georgia Tom Dorsey, Blind Boy Fuller and Jimmy Rogers. In between songs he would give us a little history of the next artist or maybe of the next song he was about to play. Steve took a short intermission break while we replenished our beverages and chatted. Refreshed, we took our beverages and our seats for the second set.

Steve Cheseborough and Steve Bailey

Steve was joined for a rendition of Slim Harpo’s “Hip Shake Thing” by accomplished harmonica master Steve Bailey - what a treat! More songs followed and more history with the evening ending with Mississippi John Hurt’s “Let The Mermaids Flirt With Me.” After the show, Steve took a few moments to talk about blues and do a short interview. Steve started playing guitar at about 12, and as a teenager played rock on an electric guitar while always leaning towards the bluesier bands. By his 20's he was playing mostly acoustic, learning a lot from a book he borrowed from the library “ The Art of Ragtime Guitar.”

In his mid 20's Steve moved from Rochester, NY to Arizona where he went to grad school majoring in Journalism. Upon graduation, he worked for the Phoenix Gazette for a number of years. A girlfriend he had asked him to make her a recording of the acoustic songs he played. Being somewhat of a perfectionist, rather than sitting down with a tape player and recording a cassette, Steve went into the studio and laid down a record. He then had a minimum pressing done and after he gave his girlfriend her copy and some to friends, he decided that he had better start performing these acoustic songs for audiences at coffee houses and the like where he could sell his records.

Then Steve saw Robert Palmer’s film “Deep Blues-Musical Pilgrimage to the Crossroads” directed by Robert Mugge. His interest thus sparked, he went to the Sunflower Blues Festival and much to his surprise saw and met many of the same artists featured in the film. The epiphany was complete and Steve moved to Mississippi. While in Mississippi, Steve met Robert Mugge and appeared in his follow up film to “Deep Blues” titled “The Last of the Mississippi Jukes.” A couple of years ago, Steve moved to Portland, OR where he does some teaching at the community college and also has a course on roasting coffee at home. As a solo artist, Steve has found that he has to be creative in lining up gigs, so that when he comes up this way to teach a class at Dusty Strings in Fremont or going to the Port Townsend Country Blues Festival you might be lucky enough to catch him performing at a small venue like Smokin’ Pete’s BBQ in Ballard, Café Luna on Vashon Island, a backyard barbeque, or if you are really lucky, at a house party.

Real Blues, real people, real fun!!